Simplification Is In The Details

Chesapeake Times, Vol 17 | April 2024

One of our main goals with SonarWiz is to simplify the UI (User Interface) and to make it more intuitive to use.   This is mainly to reduce the number of operations the user needs to make in order to accomplish a given task.   In addition to simplification we strive to make the UI familiar so it feels intuitive to use.  We would like to say “No user manual necessary”, although we have a great comprehensive user manual available on the Help tab or just press F1 at any time while in SonarWiz.

With the release of SonarWiz 8 we began a transition to a new look and the start of the simplification efforts for 2024.  The biggest item you may notice when creating a project in SonarWiz 8 is the new All In One Import.   The import menu and all of the individual import windows have been condensed down into one import window.  In this window you can import all of the data for your project in one step even if you have more than one type of sonar data.  This is a good example of reducing the number of operations the user needs to make.   This effort involved condensing 7 separate import windows into 1 comprehensive window without making it super complicated to use and providing our users with a UI that feels familiar.  We were able to eliminate 7 separate import windows.  In addition, we also simplified 6 import configuration windows.  Most of the time the settings that were on these windows existed somewhere else in the application and controlled more than one function.

We are also making the transition to using the file properties more and more.  In SonarWiz 7 some properties were duplicated in other parts of the program.  This not only made it confusing to the user trying to remember where the setting was, it made the probability of a bug creeping in higher and adds more work for CTI code maintenance.   SonarWiz 8 has many such changes.  In order to make them a lot of detailed work had to be done.  Each setting was evaluated in order to determine if it should stay, be moved, or be eliminated because it was redundant.  In some cases an import option was removed and additional functionality was added to the post processing features.  This was done for several items for the SBP import in order to make them work the same as the SSS post processing.  This not only provided familiarity it also now allows the user to make adjustments without importing the data.

In addition to the above changes we also made a large cosmetic change to differentiate SonarWiz 8 from SonarWiz 7 and 6.  This includes the new UI and theme, and unifying the color scheme for graphs, A-mode waterfall displays, and various other readouts.

When evaluating the code, we picked out seldom adjusted global settings to move to the application settings.  A good example of this is the New Project window.  We addressed the New Project window to simplify the number of settings needed to be changed when creating a new project.  We found that most users never change or change these settings infrequently.  The options that were removed are available in the Application Settings or the file properties.

While not part of the general workflow, we also updated the new about page.  These changes were about reducing the amount of work that we have to do when creating a new version of software as it was about improving the user experience.  Some changes are not apparent like the copyright notice that is filled out automatically at the time SonarWiz is built so CTI does not have to worry about updating it.

Updating to the new UI was not always a smooth process.  In some cases new bugs were introduced.  A lot of work was put into testing and fixing and improving sections of code to make sure they work as good or better than it did in SonarWiz 7.  The changes for SonarWiz 8 involved a lot of planning and detailed changes.  We tested the changes, fixed bugs, improved items that were not apparent at first and then repeated the cycle.  We hope you find the new changes welcoming